Why can't I copy my own course to a new course shell in Bb Learn?

Instructors at NAU don't have the option to copy their courses from a previous semester's Bb Learn course shell to a new course shell at the start of a new term. Faculty often say to the e-Learning Center, "I used to be able to copy my own courses in Vista. Why can't I do that in Bb Learn?"

In Vista, the process was simple. An instructor could open a new, empty course shell; select the course to be copied from; click the Submit button; and then wait until the course had been copied. It was a simple one-to-one copy, and the process was quick.

In Bb Learn, the process is much more complicated. Instructors would have to make accurate, well-considered selections from among more than 30 choices. If an instructor misunderstands the consequences of a choice or makes even a single unintentional error in clicking among the many choices, the new course shell can be filled with duplicate items, broken links, and elements from the previous course--such as student discussions or work--that should not be included in the new course. Cleaning up a botched copied course is difficult and time consuming. 

Additionally, Bb Learn can copy only a single course at a time, and the process is slow. If multiple instructors submit multiple course copy requests, the requests queue up. If an instructor submits a request and doesn't receive a "copy complete" notification within a few minutes, the instructor might then submit a duplicate request, adding to the queue, further slowing the process, and resulting in duplicate content in the destination course shell.

Here are examples of some ways in which the copying process can easily go wrong:

  • If an instructor doesn't check the destination course shell first, and the shell already has content, copying a course into that shell results in duplicate course menu items and materials. This is very complicated to fix and is confusing to instructors and students.
  • If the original course contains discussion forums and the instructor doesn't carefully select the correct copy options, the destination course will end up containing hundreds or even thousands of discussion forum posts all posted by "Anonymous," and the instructor will have to manually remove those.
  • If the destination course is a combined course (one or more sections or courses combined into a single Bb Learn course shell) and the instructor accidentally copies content into one of the "child" sections of the combined course, the content will not be visible in the combined course, which is the only one the instructor and students have access to.
  • If the content collection of the destination course is not manually checked and adjusted to have a proper hierarchy for content links, each subsequent copy of that course ends up with files buried deeper and deeper in its directory structure, making the maintenance of course files difficult.
Cleaning up these kinds of problems is complicated and time-consuming. If these problems aren't discovered by an instructor until after the course has begun and students have submitted work, fixing the problems will delete the submitted student work.

NAU continues to urge Blackboard to streamline and improve its course-copy procedures. Until Blackboard provides a process that is easy, fast, and not prone to errors, NAU instructors will not be able to copy their own courses.

The e-Learning Center sends multiple reminders to instructors each semester, encouraging them to request course copies well in advance of the start of the next term.

To request course copies, please email elc-help@nau.edu with all of this information:

Semester, Course and Class Number to copy from
Semester, Course and Class Number to copy to

Copy from: Spring 2013 ACC-666 SEC801 (1131-1234)
Copy to: Fall 2013 ACC-666 SEC802 (1137-5678)

Please request course copies at least 2 weeks before your course begins!

Last updated: Jan 8, 2014